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“Have the audacity to be yourself”: Rising soul singer Durand Bernarr’s advice to the LGBTQ+ community

Travis Ellison

When Durand Bernarr made his grand entrance onto the stage at the 2022 Roots Picnic Sunday, the crowd — which nearly filled the thousands of seats at Mann Center’s TD Pavilion — went wild. His electrifying performance matched his rich sapphire-blue glitter jumpsuit and complimentary feathered arm piece. Not long after hitting a two-step onto the stage, he inquisitively asked the audience, “Y’all like my outfit?!” Could be safe to say he wasn’t surprised by the response of screams, clapping and a thundering round of “yaaasss!” He went on to deliver a show as bold and confident as his personality. 

That same outgoing energy shined through when chatting with ABC Audio a day prior to his performance. “They can expect Black graduation, family barbecue … church,” he said. When asked questions related to Pride Month, the neo-soul singer, a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, had one main message: “Have the audacity to be yourself.”

“Do your damnedest to surround yourself with people that don’t have to accept you or tolerate you,” Bernarr suggested to those who may struggle with gender identity. He explained his feelings on “being accepted,” noting he isn’t fond of the phrase. “Because if you came out here and said, ‘Well, I accept that the sun is shining’ … you accept that the sun is doing something that it was already doing before you decided to accept it?” 

Bernarr said just as the sun doesn’t need acceptance to exist in its true form, neither should humans. “Be around people that will embrace you and lift you up,” he said. “Your environment is key.”

As far as coming out, the “Company” singer says not to feel forced to do so. “If you decide to share that, that is beautiful,” he said. “That is no one’s business who you decide to love.”

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